Robin Hoods of the Forest

In regards to the fallen trees and branches within our forests, the poor management practice of controlled burns inside, or, even worse, outside of the forest is an action that slowly removes biomass from the natural cycle. Forests have evolved many different uses for the dead wood and when we utilize only one of them (burning), and we do it on our clock and not theirs, we are robbing them of their fodder and cause long term weakening. Forests want to concentrate decomposing life forms, especially fungi, in to dead wood, and store moisture and other nutrients in to the woody tissue. For those of you upset by this—don’t give in to the knee jerk reaction of supporting a new law or regulation or repealing an old one (besides, it’s probably buried in the particular idiosyncratic bylaws of the individual forest); any such mediated actions as asking for permission or trying to govern others are sure to frustrate and remove much of your true power from its being utilized. You are an animal, just like many others that exist in the forest, and you have a place in a forest ecology as well, one that is not just as pure observer/witness to a slow death. Lo! There is much a forest lover can do to help the forest in this regard, and it is considerably good stewardship:


When you come in to contact with a pile of wood, like that pictured above, have each hiker in your troop take one or two logs from the pile. Next, proceed onward, continuing down whatever trail, and occasionally let a log lose deep in to the brush off the trail, where the forest will happily eat it and turn it to better use than any burn would. Ironically, dear Robin Hood, you are stealing from the poor (i.e. weak minded forest policy machines that are part of the larger malnourished total populous) and helping to enrich one of the richest lifeforms around: the forest. But such theft for the rich is a good thing, for unlike economic trickle down theory, a stronger forest has many “trickle down” effects for the rest of us, not least of which is literally appearance of stronger, more frequent, and more generous creeks. Forgotten logs and nurse trees are stores of moisture that help along an acute abundance of lifeforms in a concentrated area. Such an action is many magnitudes more valuable than recycling plastic or paper products through your town’s recycling services.

Note: If you are sure that the pile on a park trail is someone’s private firewood stash (like the rangers), or is used for some heating entity within the park, then you might choose to refrain from this activity as you are ruining their considerate frugality and potentially causing a greater dependence on fossil fuels for heating. But if you know they do controlled burns, then you can rest assured that whatever you take from one such pile, will be replaced for their needs from another controlled burn pile.

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